Exploring thoughts site
by Swami Shankaratilaka
Traveling with a backpack on the back is not a sin nor a small wrong before many other bad things that happen to the traveller that crosses India with a pocket and a hole through which coins go away, as the sighs of sorrowful lovers.
The European economy is not what it used to be, in the golden nineties and the beginning of the XXI century, and specially it doesn´t look like at all to that of rescued countries, or “rescued” as it is the case of Spain and Italy, for example. Ibero-americans neither can throw the dollars away, as in the case of Argentinians, who had to do so much effort to take currency out of the country of the “president-queen” Cristina.
India is now expensive. With a galloping inflation and a spirit of presence in the modernity. India, the country of Yoga and the dream of the New Age, suffers the wrong of hastily globalization and consuming. India is still India because its odd wrongs are still the same, as its eternal soul, and therefore, Gods live together with the noise of their streets, the contaminating dirtiness of streets not finished, broken asphalt, holy rivers, traffic, and expensive hotels, and cheap dantesque hotels.
In India, “prices increase, but salary does not”. Isn´t this a sign of modernity? Then, the exploitation of the man by the man is served in this globalized world. Before, the rich abused the poor, now everybody abuses without shyness against everybody and here comes the problem of cheap tourism and bad services.
I also like the good, the beautiful and the cheap altogether, but not to the extent of looking ridiculous, as many “travelers” who are willing to get cheap prices and bad services, even knowing that they are not going to win in the exchange.
India is a country of great qualities, and their citizens good knowers of the art of transaction, and, if hindus of any creed, in any part of this great country are good in something is in selling in the “bazaar of the trinkets”, and in selling “the ego of the vanities”. Any expert traveller in India knows that he will never win in the commercial treats with hindus. “No matters what business you do with the expert hindu traders, they will always win and you loose”.
“Bargain” prices in the food will be settled transforming your bowels into a paradise for bacteria and an ocean of amoebas. The diarrhea of the traveller will be your occasional or continuous company during your walks through “popular restaurants for tourists” together with ventral inflation and other troubles. The eagerness of exchanging sorrows for pleasures will put the health of the backpacker and the miserly tourist in continuous question, who will be seduced by all offers of snack bars of the “local-international-mix” cuisine and the Goa-Ibiza stylish Chill Out in the Himalaya, where he will forget the reason of his holy travel, if he at anytime had it, and he will begin a tour of outings and socializing that will have not anything to envy to any Erasmus-young or tourist of snacks in Granada, Madrid, Seville, in Spain, or any other western city where you go to meet, socialize, hook up and entertain.
Between Yoga classes and Sitar auditions, together with the attendance to some talk of one or another Guru or Neo-Guru, the neo-cafes and bars will substitute the satsanghas and the sadhanas of ancient yogi seekers who did in monastic ashrams in the company of classical Gurus in boring reclusion, but in the end, healthy, as it was lived in ancient India and in their old spiritual epicenters such as Rishikesh or Dharmashala.
Cafes, shops, temples of massage and offers of express courses are now the new caravan of spirituality, where it is easy to get satisfied and where it is played to be a yogi between certificates and lust of any form, colour and taste.
Filling the suitcase of things to sell, once you go back, and put his body soiled with oil is another of the objectives of the “neo-seeker”. The fees hardly let you more and thus, from the billfold and the credit card, all the merchants of the market of spirituality will know how to assist all tastes according to the weight of the bag and the desire of opening the pocket. We are in the East where the Ego is very valuable. If you want to buy yourself, they know how to sell yourself.
Now, comes where to stop to rest the bones, suffer in refuge the diarrhea and the body broken of so much insane food unhealthy cooked. Now to the seek of a place, anyone, even when it is in the middle of all the mess and the people, since, if silence and peace is looked for, it is possible that this place is apart, dark and unsecured. Besides, it is necessary to be ready for everyday, where he must repeat the continuous fatigue of the senses in the name of peace that he dreamed to have, because that was the reason for coming to the land of “shanti-shanti-shanti”. If something is famous in the travel through India is the hotel-backpack fee to which not only those of always, the impassive and eternal hippies join in, but the new imitators and to close the circle of disasters, now the opportunist-tourists to whom everything seems expensive, except what convinces them. “we have to intent to bargain”, as a traveller said.
Getting accommodated for a few coins, 2 euros, or 300 rupees is the icon to be conquered in the decal table of the intelligent travel of that who is willing to stay for one, two, three months, or simply fifteen days, and he does not mind living with dirtiness, bad service, cold, hot and specially, the cooperation with the exploitation of some and others. Think that nobody gives you anything for less than what you pay, it is easy to imagine what you receive and who is suffering this. It is clear that nobody is interested in doing a supportive travel in his holidays in India, and even less in crisis times, where a supreme effort is done if one can travel here or there with the budget and incomes so decompensated as they are. But even though, the question is that salaries are 10, 20, 30 euros to keep a family. That is what many will earn, or a simple place and straw mattress to sleep, and plate of dahl, rice and chapati to receive for a workday of more than eight hours, or even twelve, or more. A common eastern businessman cannot pay more, if he would like to, nor tidying up nor sterilizing his place, if the competence offers the “traveller” sleeping and eating for some rupees.
But this is not so. The prices of hostelry in India are in other sectors like European, and even higher, because it is clear that the demand doesn´t have more offer than bad or good. -It is true that sometimes, with difficulty, there are exceptions where the unusual and strange equation of quality vs good price takes place.-
In order to improve the quality of the services in India, prices should begin to be regulated by the departments of Tourism and really qualify the places for what they offer and how they offer it and all this information collected in a guide, the same as in the West and the rest of modern Asia, where one really knows why is paying in the cheap and the expensive. The sanitary regulation and a model of quality is already urgent in India, and more in places such as restaurants and hotels. The external tourism was for long time an important resource for this great nation. Now inner tourism is an ocean of possibilities for the growth in all field sphere India has not touched its highest in al the fields of services where India is still to grow.
The paradox and the terrible, at the same time, and I put an end to my painteresque and flowery walk throughout India with the backpack to the back and the heart in the purse is that foreigners are those who look for less quality and bargain for the prices, and those who demand more and better services and know the value of things, that is their prices, are hindus, -even when they must be taught to be consumers, they learn pleasantly.-
The hindu government fixes some very strong taxes. Food of the market is very expensive. The process and the permits are very expensive, workers very complicated, and having everything clean, in neatness and tidy is an odyssey in India.
There is no good service, quality, reliability and commercial professionally, if there is not a reasonable price, and this price will never be a bargain of 300 or 1000 rupees. Nor spiritual teachings could be nor must be given as a present, not only because it implies an effort that must be compensated with the cooperation of that who receives it, but for in modern India, teaching is a labour, and as it, it is a work that must be correctly remunerated. If you do not pay what you must pay for all the services you receive in India, you will be cooperating with the abuse and incompetence, even, when the numbers are perfect for your budget.
The spirituality of the teaching does not have a value, but the teaching has a price. The time, the resources, the places, the taxes and the teaching method is a work that must be paid to be honest. That which is given for free cannot be sustained without active and enough economic cooperation, that corresponds in dignity both for that who gives and that who receives.
Knowing how to pay for the services received is a gesture of gratefulness to join in that who enjoys the professionalization of a service well given and well done.
The teaching, the hostelry, the restoration give rest, refuge, nourish body, mind and spirit. It denotes courtesy and quality both knowing how to give as how to receive.
Welcome the new lineage of travelers, because they will get the best quality services at the best fair-prices.
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